As the Island reflects on the huge success of its first ever Pride Festival which saw the Island community come together to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, it is hard to believe that on the Isle of Man homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1992 and same sex marriage was only legalised in 2016.  

More generally speaking all of the characteristics protected under the Island’s Equality Act (agedisabilitygender reassignmentmarriage and civil partnershippregnancy and maternityrace, religion or beliefsexsexual orientation) only came fully into force in 2020 (albeit there was early legislation in place to provide a legal framework and protections around these).  

It is shocking that this has all happened in such recent history but fantastic that the law and attitudes have progressed so quickly. 

What next?

The overt celebrations and support exhibited at Pride are an excellent celebration of how far the movement has come and attitudes have changed. It is important for employers to follow this up in the workplace and for employers to take responsibility for ensuring that their workplaces adopt proactive policies. It is also important that they provide a supportive and safe workplace for all their employees (which is much more than just having a rainbow logo!). 

Here are some practical tips on how you can promote diversity and inclusion within your workplace; 

1. Have clear policies 

Having a clear Equality Policy not only provides your employees with clear guidance on the Company’s stance towards equality, it also outlines the expectations of the Company and how failing to comply will impact the employee. 

Having such a policy in place provides a clear signal to those with a protected characteristic that they will be supported by the Company should an issue arise. You could also supplement your Equality Policy by incorporating your stance on equality into your Company’s vision and values which should then disseminate down into all aspects of your business (expected behaviours, CSR, bonus schemes etc.) 

It goes without saying that if you have a policy in place, you should; 

  1. Circulate it 
  2. Follow it 
  3. Regularly review and update it 

One of the worst things companies can do is have policies to tick boxes – you need to practice what you preach! 

2. Deal with inappropriate behaviour quickly 

Once you have outlined the Company’s position clearly, then it is important to address any potential issues early (this is the case with almost everything employment related!). If employees are behaving in a way that contravenes the Company’s stance or could potentially be behaving in and offensive way, then ensure that they are dealt with quickly. This doesn’t always mean jumping straight to the disciplinary policy, it could be a quiet word, some advice or a reminder of the Company policy.   

3. Banter! 

This is really an extension of the above. Banter is defined as; 

the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks. 

We don’t want to kill all fun and banter in the workplace but employers need to be aware that many employment claims come to tribunal as a result of banter. 

What one person thinks is fun and mild teasing, could be very offensive to another. Ensuring that you have a clear policy and culture around acceptable behaviour will help this no end but also ensure that the culture of banter is appropriate and not offensive. 

4. Train your managers 

Managers are often the first to deal with employee relations issues – make sure you give them to tools to do a good job by providing them with suitable people management and equality training. 

Employees are the most valuable asset and expensive resource of a business so don’t leave them in untrained hands, it isn’t fair on your managers, your employees and it is not good for your bottom line (as evidenced by numerous studies and research from the likes of the CIPD).. 

5. Ask! 

Sexuality, gender and equality issues can be complex and no one person is the same so treat each case individually and speak to the employee concerned. If you are open, honest and respectful then there is nothing wrong with saying you don’t know or are not sure how to deal with something – ask the person concerned how they would like the Company to assist them in the workplace rather than trying to second guess.  

Be open minded and encourage people to be themselves in the workplace. 

Summary 

The above should provide you with some practical tips on how you can make your workplace more open and inclusive. If you ensure that you support your employees, provide appropriate training where necessary and have policies and procedures in place, you can create a diverse and inclusive workplace where every employee feels valued and respected. 

Click on the links below to read further examples of Equality and Discrimination issues in the workplace some of which have gone to tribunal…

Maya Forstater: Woman wins tribunal appeal over transgender tweets – BBC News

Gender-critical beliefs protected under UK discrimination law, tribunal finds – International Employment Lawyer

Zeal Limited blogs are not retrospectively updated in line with changes to legislation and it is the reader’s responsibility to understand this. Zeal Limited accepts no responsibility and we assume no liability for error or omission in the content and in respect to actions taken from any information contained within this website.